For The Illusionists—Magic of the Holidays’ Dom Chambers and Eric Chien, skillful magic and captivating showmanship have been a winning combination that has separately earned them spots in the semi-finals of America’s Got Talent and, now, their Broadway debuts.
But despite the umbrella of the show's title, these illusionists are quite different. Chambers, known as The Showman, likes to let loose on stage with a goofiness that enchants audiences. “It’s fun, it’s fast, and it’s a chance for me to get out there and not care,” he says. “I love comedy and magic together. People want to have a good time, but they want their minds to be blown, too.”
Chien, known as The Manipulator, is more dramatic, with swelling music and plenty of close-up camera angles as he performs sleight of hand. “A friend taught me this really simple card trick [in high school], and I learned it within five minutes,” Chien says. Ever since, he’s been in love with the art because something as simple as a card trick can create joy.
Chambers compares magic to learning how to play an instrument or write songs, pointing out how much work goes into developing an act; the rehearsals and choreography are as intense as staging a Broadway musical.
And each performer has a message that he hopes audiences appreciate, too. Chien’s audition for AGT, which will be in The Magic of the Holidays, involved a ribbon, a deck of cards, and coins, and spoke of greed. “I want to express magic as an art form through stories and through meanings in my acts,” Chien says.
So, while Chambers and Chien come at magic as vastly different performers, they share one important aspect—their talent entertains at any season.